I was privileged to get to know Dr. Hill. He had the huge church in the black, Watts area of Los Angeles. He was a really big black man both physically and otherwise. You may have seen him on one of his many TV appearances.
He was reared on the outskirts of La Grange, Texas. He never knew his real mother or father. He had been taken in by an older black lady when very young. He said that their house had only a dirt floor. I heard him tell of his upbringing at least three times. It struck such an emotional chord with me that I got big tears in my eyes every time I hear him relate it. And when I tried to relate it to others, I got chocked-up each time, like now.
He was called “Junior”. He only knew the lady who reared him as “Mama”. He never had very good clothes to wear to school, but they were always kept immaculately clean by Mama. When he got old enough to be in high school, Mama’s friends all told her to put that boy to work to help support you, but Mama said: “No, Junior’s going to finish high school”. When he finished high school they all insisted that Mama put him to work to help support them. But Mama said: “No, Junior’s going to go to college for sure.”
Dr. Hill said that though Mama did not have much money, she bought a bus ticket on the Greyhound bus to Prairie View, Texas near Houston where Prairie View A&M University was located. After the ticket, Mama only had twelve dollars left. She gave that to Junior, put him on the buss and told him: “Now Junior, you go on to college and I am going to be here praying. God is going to provide, ‘cause he wants you to go to college.’”
Dr. Hill said he got off that bus and walked up to the college where the Admissions area was. He said that he only had $8 left after a meal when the buss stopped along the way. He got in line with the other students. However, he kept staring at the big sign above the Admissions Desk that said in large letters…….You must have $120 to stay in this line. He says that he stayed in that line, because Mama told him to go to college and she would be at home praying. Finally, there were only eight people in front of him, but he kept looking up at that sign. Then there were only 3 people in front of him, but that big sign was still there.
He said that finally there was only one girl in front on him. He said that just as she walked away from the Admissions Table, this big voice boomed out…….”Junior Hill!!! Is there a Junior Hill here???” He sheepishly raised his hand and this man came up to him. The man informed him that he had a full scholarship there for him and a certificate for all his room and board. Dr. Hill said that to this day he never learned who provided those funds, but he knew that Mama was back home there kneeling on that dirt floor praying.
Dr. Hill was always trying to get across to people that many folks may experience privation on this earth as he once had, but he wanted them to know that if they stayed close to the Lord, they had great rewards coming to them after this life in Heaven. I shall never forget how he illustrated that to me one time. Like I mentioned, he had this huge church in Watts. The church had all manner of ministries there and a large office with many clerks and administrators.
Dr. Hill said that one day he was briskly walking through that office when he looked down and noticed this young lady at one of the desks. He slid to a stop right beside here. He was so big an imposing with such a commanding voice, that the poor girl was probably terrified. He looked down at her and said: “Girl, is you who I thinks you is?” She hung her head and looked down and said: “Yes Sir.” It was Natalie Cole, Nat King Cole’s only daughter. He was dead now, but his estate was worth many millions of dollars.
Dr. Hill said: “Girl, what in the world is you doin’ workin’ here as a clerk.” Her reply: “Dr. Hill, I hasn’t come into my inheritance yet.”
Later, when Natalie Cole got old enough to qualify for her inheritance, she became one of the wealthiest young ladies in Los Angeles, and went on to greatly expand the estate with her own music which studios blended in with her late father’s voice. Millions of those records were sold.
So, you get Dr. Hill’s point. So many folks have not come into their Heavenly inheritance yet, but they should all be looking forward to it. That will help them get through the rough times here now.
One time, Dr. Hill and I and Bunker Hunt (one of the three wealthiest men in the world at the time) and his wife were on our way to a conference in Florida. Dr. Hill was in First Class, but Bunker was back is economy class with me where he always flew. When we all got to the airport we took a stretch limousine together to the Doral Country Club where the conference was being held.
I had never known that Dr. Hill and Bunker Hunt’s wife both had bad cases of claustrophobia that came upon them on occasion. They got to telling those claustrophobia stories like I had never heard. Dr. Hill said that he was taking his children through Long Horn Cavern on a trip back to Texas. He said that he was doing all right until they clanged that big steel gate shut behind him. It and the closeness of the cavern hit him. He turned and said to the young man: “You need to open that gate, son.” The boy said: “No sir, you are with that group. You need to go on ahead into the cavern.” “You don’t understand son. You need to open that gate.” And Dr. Hill was so huge and imposing that the boy opened the gate.
Dr. Hill related that when the claustrophobia incidents would hit him most intensely, was on airplanes. He said that he actually had planes land to let him off on certain occasions.
So I asked him: “Dr. Hill, when was the last time that happened to you?” He said: “Last ‘a week.” So, I asked him to tell us about it. He said that he was on a plane back to New York from London where he had been speaking. On those first big 747’s they had a fairly large round widow in the door at the back of the plane. He said that in the middle of the flight the claustrophobia hit him. He said that he got up and walked back and looked down through that round widow at those blue waves in the middle of the Atlantic. He said: “Lord, you has got to see me through this. This ain’t no good place to land this plane!”
Another thing that Dr. Hill wanted to get across to people was how God does his work on our planet most times through very ordinary people. The way that he illustrated it was with the story of Moses leading his people out of Egypt to the Promised Land. Dr. Hill would say that those captive people had been praying for many, many years to be delivered from their captivity. Dr. Hill said: “Finally God answered their prayer. The Israeli Gazette had the headlines…..’God gonna deliver his people out of Egypt. God gonna send Moses.’ Wait a minute God, what’s this Moses business. That dude killed that man. That dude can’t even talk right. Let’s see about somebody else, God.’ But God said: ‘No, I am sending my servant Moses to deliver you.’”
And Dr. Hill would say: “God decided to do his work on this earth through regular peoples’. That is the dumbest way God could have ever do it. That is God’s Plan A. He ain’t got no plan B. He sent Moses, not an army of angels.”
So, I have gone through all this about Dr. E.V. Hill in anticipation of relating one thing or occasion to you. Some years ago when it looked like Teddy Kennedy was going to be swept into the Office of President of the U.S., the Christian people in America became quite concerned about the way the country was headed. Two little churches in Washington D.C. proposed that we have a national day of prayer and fasting on the Mall in Washington. Rather miraculously it quickly became a national movement. Christian ministries and churches and all manner of Christian groups joined in to be there to pray for our Country. Hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people felt compelled to go. But our liberal news media never reported a word of it. Several reliable Christian institutions have estimated that there were close to a million people there.
Early on the morning of that day they routed many of the Washington subways one-way into town to the Mall. Thousands and thousands of young people went the night before and spent that night on the grass of the mall in their sleeping bags. I had no intention of going, but in the afternoon of the day before; I just had to go. I got a plane ticket and packed a little bag and was able to spend the night in the home of one of our high government officials who lived in Virginia. I caught the subway early the next morning and went straight in.
I was able to maneuver fairly close to the speakers stand that had been set up. Some young people were passing out programs. I got one and was overwhelmed at all the Christian speakers…….like Billy Graham and Dr. Bill Bright and a host of others. However, the one that I really wanted to hear was Dr. E.V. Hill. Then I was just crushed when I saw on the program that all he was assigned to do was deliver an opening prayer.
A tropical storm had moved in and was situated just off the mouth of the Potomac. It had been raining steadily all night and was slated to rain all day and for the next three days. All those young folks who had spent the night before on the grass had slept in the mud in their wet bags. Things looked like they were going to be just miserable.
Then it was time for Dr. Hill’s opening prayer. Someone introduced him and he started to pray in his commanding voice. He started off rather calmly and built-up as he went along, but I shall never forget how he finished off. He said: “Lord, this here rain ain’t no good thing. I am asking you to do something about that, Lord. Amen!”
I had my eyes closed like most everyone else. But when I opened my eyes, it was to blinding sunlight. There was a hole in those thick clouds making a big ellipse only over the Mall with bright sunlight streaming down.
I never heard exactly how many people were there, but like I said, it was estimated there were close to a million. Later in the day there was a big parade of the states, all kinds of people from every state. I remember thinking that I never would have believed that there were that many evangelical Christians from Massachusetts when they passed by. There was a sign for every state, even though the states were not in alphabetical order. Finally, I could not stand it any longer; I had to join the parade. I fell in with a large group of nuns from Louisiana. I felt sorry for the food vendors. They thought they were going to make a killing, but we were all supposed to fast.
All day I watched those helicopters from the media and the government circling just inside the clouds on the inside of that sun-bathed ellipse. After I got back home and called back up there; they told me that just as the gathering had finished, the clouds moved back over the Mall and it did rain for three more days.
Folks, you can say that it was just a weather phenomenon that there was bright sun in my eyes the very second Dr. Hill finished his prayer, but you could never make me believe it. And I always wondered what those media folks thought as they circled just inside that big ellipse against the clouds in their helicopters, gazing down at the bright sunlight.